• The Star Staff

PREPA was ready for tropical storm, but power went out the day before

By The Star Staff

As a storm system appears to be approaching Puerto Rico, some 500,000 Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) customers lost power on Tuesday due to an outage at Ecoeléctrica, one of PREPA’s suppliers.

The power outage occurred after PREPA announced through its Twitter account that it was ready to handle a storm. The utility said it has $135 million in materials and equipment, equipped staff and agreements with other electric power companies in the mainland U.S. to help with repairs if needed.

Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, head of the Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union, said via Twitter that the situation was complicated because a 230 kilovolt line that connects Ecoeléctrica to Costa Sur went offline. He said Ecoeléctrica was ready to resume operations.

The outage occurred as a system in the Atlantic was moving closer to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and was gaining strength as a storm.

A tropical storm warning was in effect on Tuesday, with the storm system expected to arrive this afternoon and affect the region through early Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Tropical storm force winds (35-45 miles per hour with gusts of up to 60 mph) were possible starting this afternoon and lasting until early Thursday morning, with projected rainfall of 3 to 6 inches (and up to 10 inches in isolated areas) in the U.S.V.I. and Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, Natural and Environmental Resources Secretary Rafael Machargo Maldonado issued Administrative Order 2020-07K to clarify instructions on activities at marinas to ease the movement of boats to safer areas.

“In other words, any boat owner who wishes to relocate a boat, secure anchorage or remove it from a marina, will be able to do so, taking all precautionary measures, in a safe, orderly and coordinated manner with the managers of the marinas,” he said in a written statement.

Vessels may move between marinas with the purpose of protecting them or to engage in repairs to face an atmospheric emergency. The hours of the marinas continue to be seven days a week, from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.; however, activities in common areas are prohibited. Any person who enters the marinas will be responsible for complying with the COVID-19 Prevention Protocol (including maintenance and disinfection tasks).

“We urge all sailors to secure their boats in advance, taking into account all safety measures,” Machargo Maldonado added.

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